Science Saturday: FTL Neutrinos + UARS’ Fall to Earth + Record Your Dreams + Happy Equinox!

This week in Science Saturday: travel faster than light (?) on the back of a neutrino, watch a satellite fall to its doom, record your dreams on video, and celebrate the Autumnal Equinox! Read on for your weekly sciencey fix!


Faster Than Light Travel Discovered at CERN?
Everyone is talking about the neutrino, the particle that can break the laws of physics. Or so is claimed by a group of scientists from CERN who clocked a neutrino arriving at their detector about 60 nanoseconds (or 0.00000006 seconds) before a proton, aka a particle of light, would have arrived. Einstein says that this is utterly impossible and that nothing can travel faster than the speed of light, c. The scientists have poured over their data and double checked their facts, but because of the profound implications of their findings, they’ve shared their data with the world before publishing conclusions. Most are skeptical, saying that even small errors in time and distance measurements could account for the difference.

UARS Satellite Falls (harmlessly) to Earth
Sometime around midnight EDT last night, NASA’s UARS (Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite) fell back to Earth. Many were looking to the skies wondering if the hunk of metal would crush their houses, but NASA confirms that it penetrated the atmosphere somewhere over the Pacific Ocean. NASA has been unsure (and still does not know precisely) where the craft would land, saying on their website,

“…UARS will land within a zone between 57 degrees north latitude and 57 degrees south latitude. It is impossible to pinpoint just where in that zone the debris will land, but NASA estimates the debris footprint will be about 500 miles long. If you find something you think may be a piece of UARS, do not touch it. Contact a local law enforcement official for assistance.”

UARS flying high

Brain Scanner Recreates Your Dreams on Video
Scientists at UC Berkeley have discovered how to convert brain signals into video and play it back to you. The way it works is an fMRI machine monitors electrical activity in a persons brain while they watch video clips presented to them, then correlates the patterns seen in the brain with the images on the screen. Scientists then used these data to create a complex computer algorithm that matches brain patterns with a huge database of random YouTube videos. And, it works surprisingly well! While we’re not seeing exactly what is pictured by the subject, the concepts they are imagining tend to come across with surprising clarity.

Happy Equinox, Everyone! A Year of Sunrises from Space
Celebrate the start of fall (or Spring for you southerners) by watching the very cause of the seasons from space. A geostationary satellite captured images at 6:00 am local time everyday for one year. Watch as the terminator (the line between night and day) shifts angle on the Earth’s surface due to the changing seasons. Very cool!

Science Bytes
Not enough science for you? Here’s a warp-speed look at some more science tid-bits that are worth a peek.


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There is a typo under the paragraph about faster than light particles! Protons aren’t particles of light, but PHOTOS are!

By the way, cool if the experiments are right and if the particles really travelled FTL :)

Sorry, i meant photons, not photos, I apologize for my stupid cell phone dictionary

so 2 great Mysteries could be solved here

time travel (FTL)

the undiscovered country (the brain video)

Autumn has defintely arrived here in the UK. Just walked the dog in the countryside and the tree’s are putting on a quite lovely display. A truly beautiful season.

If they really have discovered a faster than light particle it will be quite a breakthrough indeed. Amazing time’s ahead!

hi – just sending a message from 5.10.13 via this new LHC app on my iphone6 to say the Trek sequel is really great! and you guys are gonna love the bit at the end (hint…KHHHHHAAAN!)

“Scientists then used these data to create a complex computer algorithm that matches brain patterns with a huge database of random YouTube videos.”
Crap, my deepest sex dreams are actually video of the waterskiing squirrel?

Yeah neutrinos! I guess. Not really sure why everyone quickly says we’ve conquered time and can now go back and date Marilyn Monroe. Wouldn’t you still have to travel a guh-zillion years just to jump back a few seconds?

Love the sunrises. Now that’s cool work, God. Way to go!

Thanks, Kayla!

Thank’s #5 for runing the movie for me. For that you get to spend some time in the new Agoniser Booth that I Just invented.

5 – You must be way far in the future! JJ has fininshed the new Trek movie AND you have an iphone6 that has the bugs worked out. Are the apes kind and benevolent rulers??

@7 good luck on trying to catch me

@8 no but Palin is alot better than expected!

Khan. I am in the Empire. Catchng you will not be a problem. Lol.
In the future the President will be none other then. Harry Ballz.

Re: #4:

“If they really have discovered a faster than light particle it will be quite a breakthrough indeed. Amazing time’s ahead!”

There are actually a couple of proposed explanations. Either the particles really have travelled faster than light, or they’ve managed to take a short-cut through some unknown dimension and therefore appear to have travelled faster than light (but haven’t really). Both of these explanations have staggering implications.

If it’s the short-cut method, then it’s still good news because it means that Star Wars-style “jumping through hyperspace” is potentially a feasible method of (what appears to be) FTL interstellar travel. Of course, it’s also very bad news for anyone who’s seen the movie “Event Horizon” ;)

Faster than light and NOT backward in time? Interesting. I assume the calibration of their equipment is the first thing they certified.

Staggering implications, yes, but there is still tons of physics to deal with before there are ships jumping to hyperspace. Next up, artificial gravity, because without it all you will have are very fast blenders in space.

We will have ships like on Babylon 5 with spinning sections. Perhaps we will need jump gates too.

I’m no physicist, but it seems to me that if the force needed to accelerate a ship to FTL (don’t forget, these neutrinos were fired through an accelerator under tremendous force) overcomes gravity generated from a spinning habitat section you are going to end up with splattermarks on your bulkhead. Shuttle astronauts are strapped in and in pressure suits, and they are only zipping along at 4-5 times the speed of sound at launch. A true warping of space overcomes this problem because the ship isn’t moving, space is. It’s the near light velocities that the ship design will need to resist.

Maximum warp. Punch it.

Any updates on the post-production and script for the sequel?

Oops….I meant pre-production…

They should call it “The Shatner Particle”.. or, “The Chuck Norris Particle”

Protons? A small typo, but a big difference. A photon is a particle of light, not a proton, which is a hadron.

Oh, looks like someone beat me to it…

If they (the CERN-people) will prove they’re right and it’s not the suposed miscalculation and if neutrinos could really beat the speed of light, Warp Speed will be possible!!!! YESSS!!!


much like the neutrino beat the photon to it, post 1 & 2 beat you to it!

i am oft times premature myself! LOL

cool video of the sunrises…….i most certainly would not put it down to some “divine entity” though……..aaaah, the brain-washed masses!

not that i have a problem with whatever people wish to believe, you understand. each to their own.

@ 5

i would only believe you if you were in 3013 and you were sending the message from your iImplant 6 telekinetically.

Great work nature. :)

Someone told me that Einstein had thought it might be possible that some particle(s) may go faster than the speed of light, but the difference is that he posited that nothing could ACCELERATE to any speed faster than the speed of light. With the science-fiction notions of going into hyperspace or going into warp, they require some kind of acceleration. If particles are naturally going faster than the speed of light, then no acceleration is required.

What makes the results of the experiments at the Cern remarkable and a bit disconcerting was that they think they may have managed to cause particles that go slower than the speed of light to accelerate to light speed and then go faster. They are wondering if they may have made a mistake or something, hence they want other scientists to verify or otherwise their initial findings.

#15 – “A true warping of space overcomes this problem because the ship isn’t moving, space is. It’s the near light velocities that the ship design will need to resist.”
Does space move? How fast can it go? How do you cause it to move faster or slower? I am not expecting any dissertation setting out answers in great detail to these questions…:) Just wondering.

maybe the speed of light wasn’t broken, maybe we just have the wrong speed as the speed of light!

Next thing you know they will confirm aliens eh phil? Like I always said keep a open mind :) I recall a certain ex lockheed ceo saying alberts equations have to be adjusted regarding the speed limit of the universe.

Waiting for the day to say I told you so again Phil.

Those dream videos are kind of creepy.

“Brain Scanner Recreates Your Dreams on Video”


Dreams on video… hmm…
Does this mean commercials in dreams are next?

“Brought to you by Lightspeed Briefs!”


A scientist suggested the FTL neutrino discovery may allow us to send messages back in time. If so, then… why haven’t we heard anything from the future yet?

Or—I wonder—is there something more to a flickering lightbulb than a bad connection? Morse code from the 23rd century perhaps…?


#23 – Warp drive, as it has been postulated, is the process of compressing the space in front of an object (such as a ship) and then having it re- expand behind said object. This allows the ship to traverse space in less time than is possible at relativistic speeds. In theory, this would allow a ship to exceed the speed of light without actually going faster than light.

Shatners book “I’m working on that” has a section describing how it could work.

Einstein suspected that his equation wasn’t the be all and end all of physics; so I doubt he’d be rolling over in his grave, as one headline suggested.

Exciting stuff. Imagine the form dream imaging will take in 10-15 years?!

I heard a great explanation, recently, regarding how we might actually space travel, one day, by warping space.

As far as I’ve read, they still don’t know exactly where or when UARS came down, other than it may have landed in Canada and may possibly have clipped a caribou in the butt.

#29 Vultan, interesting! Maybe we have according to some CERN physicists. (see article and paper below) While I am certainly not a physicist, I am excited at this possible new discovery and to see how this story unfolds.

I wonder if it is the same scientists/physicists who theorized “reverse chronological causation” in this article back in ’09 when a bird dropped a piece of bread into a part of the LHC’s power supply causing power to cease to the LHC, as a means to stop the scientists from finding the Higgs particle in the first place. (because either God or nature didn’t want us to find it),8599,1937370,00.html

The actual scholarly paper here, which is really really thought provoking- (have you seen the double slit experiment? very cool-& mentioned here too)

So instead of using radio waves to communicate, we can use neutrino waves to message each other across the vast distances in space.

Open channel to starbase xyz, message arrives a few seconds before it was sent.

Humans can now map the entire universe by creating a sonar based on neutrinos and we will have every celestial object mapped and downloaded to earths computers and say hello to all the benevolent and maleovent lifeforms out there. That would be the holy grail of maps. The map to the universe in full 4D!

I love all the “know-it-alls” on here who try to pretend that they know what they’re talking about by attempting to “explain” physics & Einstein & warp speed and Relativity to everyone else. It sounds like they’re quoting other (smarter people’s) statements and teachings, and trying to pass it all off as their own knowledge and understanding. It’s funny.

@35: Act superior much?


I don’t think anyone means to sound like a know it all, but I believe we do have some very intelligent people here. But, all anyone has to do is Google or wikipedia the topic discussed to sound like an expert. When referencing theories or ideas I think it best to include the origin of the work as to not plagiarize the author’s work.

These findings with neutrinos, if found to be true, could change the approach scientists take to further our technology in the

Neutrinos could improve the way we relay information on earth (underwater and above) and into space. Neutrinos could be used as # 34 somethoughts said, to send signals into space. (knowing how to receive or gather returned signals is another story)

I understand some of the theories, but couldn’t possibly understand all of them since my main studies are in the healthcare realm. With that said, many of the break-throughs in science do promote positive changes within the healthcare environment as well. (i.e. PET scans,etc.) I find the dream imaging both eerie and fascinating, but this is another area that is relatively new and it too will need a few years of “tweeking” before it becomes mainstream.

But I do like to hear other posters theories or thoughts regarding these topics and how these findings may impact our lives, and from both humorous posts and serious posts.

What I want to know is who here would volunteer for the dream imaging? LOL

So interesting!

I don’t quit understand the tech behind the fmri machine, but it is fascinating. Imagine where this tech will be in 25 years. I for one would love to see my dreams.

I am a little skeptical about the results from the CERN scientists, but if true the possibilities would be mind blowing. Would physics have to start from scratch?

Start looking for neutrinos escaping from blackholes.

Some people think I’m lazy. Well, anyone would appear to be lazy next to a FTL neutrino!

Lady light went out one night and went faster than the speed of light, she arrived the previous night.

@37 and 34…eh, not really. We have known about neutrinos for decades and have been studying them since. They are small, sort-of massless particles that almost travel at the speed of light (recent findings not with-standing) that occur all the time in fusion reactions and BARELY react with anything. Meaning, there are trillions and trillions of neutrinos going through your body right now, most are coming from the core of the sun. They exist, but do not offer any practical applications for us.

It would be neat if they could find a way to harness that power. No more energy crisis.

Those first attempts at producing images from brain activity is very exciting! The potential is staggering! Please continue to list any significant developments on that topic. Imagine what it could mean to a victim of a crime trying to describe the attacker or to a therapist treating phobias, trauma and disorders.

#42 yes I know scientists have known about neutrinos from around the 1930’s- and we are inundated with them daily. Detecting them is fairly new. But they do hold a potential for practical applications-

#43 Wow- I didn’t think about how it could help those with PTSD, phobias and other issues…too used to thinking in the moment in the ER. Thanks Douglas! I also want to know more as it progresses.

“Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the universe.”
― Albert Einstein

I would much sooner believe errors in measurement and computation than I would believe that these neutrinos are traveling FTL. If others can reproduce it, maybe it’s true, otherwise it is cold fusion.

#46 agree on both points cd! Try to replicate the experiment with other researchers first.

I like this quote from Einstein too…

“We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”


Well the Govt can come out and say it was a error ;) carry on, nothing to see here just a weather balloon that crashed onto the test site that caused the anomaly /rollseyes

Error or not, happy to see some progress in physics, maybe we will have a unified field theory sooner than later. Colonize this solar system and start mapping this galaxy before our sun burns out or kill each other over gas prices and how much money is in our pensions.

The good folks at CERN are the first to point out someone needs to duplicate the results a few times to confirm this – it could be a mistake. It dosen’t mean the alien overlords will be arriving soon, nor does it give us the ability to make a space shuttle a FTL vehicle. Discovering how to reproduce gravity is probably just as important of need for space travel. Without some way to compensate for the forces of accelaration on the body at sublight speeds space travel will be a very fatal and short trip.

It’s absolutely correct that figuring out how to generate artificial gravity would be critical for manned FTL vehicles, but in the meantime harnessing any FTL technology resulting from the successful duplication of CERN’s results would be extremely useful for unmanned spaceprobes.

Plus it would also be a major breakthrough for very long-distance telecommunication, as some people here have already mentioned.

Apparently the CERN team managed to duplicate the results 15,000 times, so it will be fascinating to see if anyone else manages to pull it off too. Assuming that CERN haven’t made a mistake somewhere, of course.